If you’ve been in a professional career for at least a year, chances are you have observed something called the “Inner Circle”. These are people in your office that have a unique and intimate connection with the leadership in your company. They are the ones that are privy to company changes before they are officially announced. They are the people that leadership makes positions for in order to retain them during periods of restructuring. They are proactively consulted by management and have unofficial influence over decisions above their paygrade. They are the ones being personally groomed and prepped as the next generation of senior leadership. They have leadership’s attention and trust. They are in the circle within the circle.
Now how one gets to the inner circle can vary. It’s safe to say that in our current corporate culture, many choose ingenious means to ingratiate themselves into the intimate confidence of executive leadership. Quite frankly, it often appears to work.
However, for a Christian, insincerity and deception for the pursuit of selfish ambitions are never an option. The “good-guys-finish-last” mantra often play in their head, leaving them tempted and wondering if staying faithful to the doctrine of scripture is a firewall between them and the inner circle.
How can a faithful professional gain access to the inner circle of senior leadership and still maintain Christian integrity?
Here are a few thoughts to consider:
- Flattery Will Get You Everywhere…You Don’t Want To Be
- Let’s just call flattery what it is…lying. All liars eventually find themselves in the same place, trapped in the net of their own lies (Proverbs 29:5). The problem is that one insincere comment about how much you gained from the COO’s latest book that you never read will ultimately lead to more lies to hold up your first lie. It’s a trap…avoid it! Better to say nothing at all then to go down the path of flattery.
- Respectful Objections Opens Doors
- No executive leader worth their stock awards wants a bunch of yes-men or yes-women around them. Now, this doesn’t mean you are a thorn in their side, objecting to every idea that rolls down from the top floor. But there is a way to genuinely express concerns about a new approach or direction without labeling yourself the company “nay-sayer”. Articulate your commitment to support the new transition before you speak of concerns. This frames your concerns in the light of wanting to figure out how to make the new idea work rather than thwarting progress. That’s a desirable characteristic leaders seek out to include in change conversations in public and in their circle.
- The Novelty of Caring
- This is going to sound cliché but it’s true so I am going to write it anyway. Everybody needs to know that there’s someone who cares. Leadership is lonely. The higher you go up the the chain of command, the lonelier it gets. You want to wow your leader? Take an active interest in caring about the things they care about. Find out what is keeping them up at night in and outside of the office. Proactively offer your assistance when appropriate, and for everything else, pray for them. You will be amazed how the smallest exhibitions of sincere care can create the greatest impact for earning trust.
- Some Inner Circles Are Actually Prisons
- Ok…sometimes you encounter a leader who does want flattery and to be surrounded by plastic-smile-people that will go along with everything they say, no matter how impractical or illegal. The reality is that your faithfulness to God’s Word and principles will prevent your entrance into this leader’s inner circle. Thank God for it! Being in the inner circle of this type of leader will either land you in a figurative prison of regret or a physical one of iron.